Fearing Another ’93 Disaster, Mayors Calling for Flexibility on Spending

By on March 8, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  Mayors of cities along the Mississippi River, concerned about potential record flooding again this spring, are here this week to ask Congress for more flexibility in spending $7.9 billion to fight natural disasters and add more loan programs to finance mitigation projects.

They met Tuesday with Army Corps of Engineers officials, Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Thursday with members of President Donald Trump’s National Security Council and Council of Economic Advisers.

They’re urging Congress, which has been unable to fulfill a Trump campaign promise to fund a major, national infrastructure bill, to give them flexibility in how they use the $7.9 billion already appropriated. The money often comes with strings that restrict local innovation, mayors said, and they’re hoping that reassurances from the White House and members of their delegations in Congress will lead to movement on the issue soon.

“Realistically, we heard from (Trump’s) representatives that infrastructure still remains important,” said Davenport, Iowa, Mayor Frank Klipsch, co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiatives. “Now, how that is going to shake out — that is what we are working to find out.”

About 15 mayors from cities along the Mississippi (St. Louis’s Mayor Lyda Krewson remained in Missouri for this week’s elections) held a news conference Thursday, on a day in which the House was embroiled in a controversy over a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry sparked by comments many considered anti-Semitic by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

The mayors’ visit also coincides with several congressional committees in the Democratic-controlled House now engrossed in investigations of Trump and his pre-presidential business dealings.

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